One of the biggest reasons that people give for buying SUVs, even if they don’t need off-road ability or even a large-sized car, is because they want something known as a “command seating position.” That’s just goofy marketing-speak for “driving while sitting a bit higher than in a normal car.” You don’t need a truck for that!
For whatever strange psychological reason, people seem to feel safer in these positions, even though, logically, the higher centers of gravity needed for these sorts of layouts arguably cause worse handling, but whatever. Anyway, some dude managed to get this feature even in a genuinely tiny car, way back in 1962.
The dude in question was Dr. Eric Puddy, of Norfolk, England. Dr. Puddy was a big man, about six-foot-seven or so, and modified his Mini with a special raised seat, longer gearshift, and a special tilting steering wheel in order to avoid back problems, especially slipped discs. Here, just watch:
Look at that thing! He’s got a raised seat on a swivel base, and suicide doors, even!
I’ve been trying to find out more information about Dr. Puddy and what seems to be his remarkable determination to drive a tiny Mini even though he is clearly not the ideal body type for such a car.
I mean, who was this guy? Did he do these modifications himself? There’s a lot of involved bodywork going on here, extending the door height, making that whole windowed head-box thing, complete with windshield wiper—and it looks to be a clean, well-executed job. This couldn’t have been cheap, right?
There’s one other picture of the good doctor and a different, but still modified Mini:
This version may have been an earlier, less involved attempt, where there’s just an opening section of the roof to allow for easier entry and exit, but once in the car, Dr.Puddy or a similarly-scaled driver would still be restricted by the confines of the interior.
Plus, I just noticed, he made it have suicide doors, too!
I’m really taken by all of this: the fact that Dr. Puddy didn’t just look for a larger car, the sheer effort taken to do this, the frankly and gloriously bizarre solution that was the result, the way his passengers must have felt talking to him as his head is stuck in that little greenhouse on the roof, it’s all fantastic.
If people love “command seating” so much, why has no one tried this on a modern Mini or Fiat 500? Where are the modern Doctors Puddy?
I’d much rather see some bonkers stuff like this around than a sea of undifferentiated SUVs and crossovers. I’ll try summoning the spirit of Dr. Puddy with some dangerous black magick tonight.
If you start seeing cars with head-bubbles, you’ll know it worked.